Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #1862 on: Nov 14th, 2010, 09:17am »
New York Times November 13, 2010 Nazis Were Given ‘Safe Haven’ in U.S., Report Says By ERIC LICHTBLAU
WASHINGTON — A secret history of the United States government’s Nazi-hunting operation concludes that American intelligence officials created a “safe haven” in the United States for Nazis and their collaborators after World War II, and it details decades of clashes, often hidden, with other nations over war criminals here and abroad.
The 600-page report, which the Justice Department has tried to keep secret for four years, provides new evidence about more than two dozen of the most notorious Nazi cases of the last three decades.
It describes the government’s posthumous pursuit of Dr. Josef Mengele, the so-called Angel of Death at Auschwitz, part of whose scalp was kept in a Justice Department official’s drawer; the vigilante killing of a former Waffen SS soldier in New Jersey; and the government’s mistaken identification of the Treblinka concentration camp guard known as Ivan the Terrible.
The report catalogs both the successes and failures of the band of lawyers, historians and investigators at the Justice Department’s Office of Special Investigations, which was created in 1979 to deport Nazis.
Perhaps the report’s most damning disclosures come in assessing the Central Intelligence Agency’s involvement with Nazi émigrés. Scholars and previous government reports had acknowledged the C.I.A.’s use of Nazis for postwar intelligence purposes. But this report goes further in documenting the level of American complicity and deception in such operations.
The Justice Department report, describing what it calls “the government’s collaboration with persecutors,” says that O.S.I investigators learned that some of the Nazis “were indeed knowingly granted entry” to the United States, even though government officials were aware of their pasts. “America, which prided itself on being a safe haven for the persecuted, became — in some small measure — a safe haven for persecutors as well,” it said.
The report also documents divisions within the government over the effort and the legal pitfalls in relying on testimony from Holocaust survivors that was decades old. The report also concluded that the number of Nazis who made it into the United States was almost certainly much smaller than 10,000, the figure widely cited by government officials.
The Justice Department has resisted making the report public since 2006. Under the threat of a lawsuit, it turned over a heavily redacted version last month to a private research group, the National Security Archive, but even then many of the most legally and diplomatically sensitive portions were omitted. A complete version was obtained by The New York Times.
The Justice Department said the report, the product of six years of work, was never formally completed and did not represent its official findings. It cited “numerous factual errors and omissions,” but declined to say what they were.
More than 300 Nazi persecutors have been deported, stripped of citizenship or blocked from entering the United States since the creation of the O.S.I., which was merged with another unit this year.
In chronicling the cases of Nazis who were aided by American intelligence officials, the report cites help that C.I.A. officials provided in 1954 to Otto Von Bolschwing, an associate of Adolph Eichmann who had helped develop the initial plans “to purge Germany of the Jews” and who later worked for the C.I.A. in the United States. In a chain of memos, C.I.A. officials debated what to do if Von Bolschwing were confronted about his past — whether to deny any Nazi affiliation or “explain it away on the basis of extenuating circumstances,” the report said.
The Justice Department, after learning of Von Bolschwing’s Nazi ties, sought to deport him in 1981. He died that year at age 72.
The report also examines the case of Arthur L. Rudolph, a Nazi scientist who ran the Mittelwerk munitions factory. He was brought to the United States in 1945 for his rocket-making expertise under Operation Paperclip, an American program that recruited scientists who had worked in Nazi Germany. (Rudolph has been honored by NASA and is credited as the father of the Saturn V rocket.)
The report cites a 1949 memo from the Justice Department’s No. 2 official urging immigration officers to let Rudolph back in the country after a stay in Mexico, saying that a failure to do so “would be to the detriment of the national interest.”
Justice Department investigators later found evidence that Rudolph was much more actively involved in exploiting slave laborers at Mittelwerk than he or American intelligence officials had acknowledged, the report says.
Some intelligence officials objected when the Justice Department sought to deport him in 1983, but the O.S.I. considered the deportation of someone of Rudolph’s prominence as an affirmation of “the depth of the government’s commitment to the Nazi prosecution program,” according to internal memos.
The Justice Department itself sometimes concealed what American officials knew about Nazis in this country, the report found.
In 1980, prosecutors filed a motion that “misstated the facts” in asserting that checks of C.I.A. and F.B.I. records revealed no information on the Nazi past of Tscherim Soobzokov, a former Waffen SS soldier. In fact, the report said, the Justice Department “knew that Soobzokov had advised the C.I.A. of his SS connection after he arrived in the United States.”
(After the case was dismissed, radical Jewish groups urged violence against Mr. Soobzokov, and he was killed in 1985 by a bomb at his home in Paterson, N.J. )
The secrecy surrounding the Justice Department’s handling of the report could pose a political dilemma for President Obama because of his pledge to run the most transparent administration in history. Mr. Obama chose the Justice Department to coordinate the opening of government records.
The Nazi-hunting report was the brainchild of Mark Richard, a senior Justice Department lawyer. In 1999, he persuaded Attorney General Janet Reno to begin a detailed look at what he saw as a critical piece of history, and he assigned a career prosecutor, Judith Feigin, to the job. After Mr. Richard edited the final version in 2006, he urged senior officials to make it public but was rebuffed, colleagues said.
When Mr. Richard became ill with cancer, he told a gathering of friends and family that the report’s publication was one of three things he hoped to see before he died, the colleagues said. He died in June 2009, and Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. spoke at his funeral.
“I spoke to him the week before he died, and he was still trying to get it released,” Ms. Feigin said. “It broke his heart.”
After Mr. Richard’s death, David Sobel, a Washington lawyer, and the National Security Archive sued for the report’s release under the Freedom of Information Act.
The Justice Department initially fought the lawsuit, but finally gave Mr. Sobel a partial copy — with more than 1,000 passages and references deleted based on exemptions for privacy and internal deliberations.
Laura Sweeney, a Justice Department spokeswoman, said the department is committed to transparency, and that redactions are made by experienced lawyers.
The full report disclosed that the Justice Department found “a smoking gun” in 1997 establishing with “definitive proof” that Switzerland had bought gold from the Nazis that had been taken from Jewish victims of the Holocaust. But these references are deleted, as are disputes between the Justice and State Departments over Switzerland’s culpability in the months leading up to a major report on the issue.
Another section describes as “a hideous failure” a series of meetings in 2000 that United States officials held with Latvian officials to pressure them to pursue suspected Nazis. That passage is also deleted.
So too are references to macabre but little-known bits of history, including how a director of the O.S.I. kept a piece of scalp that was thought to belong to Dr. Mengele in his desk in hopes that it would help establish whether he was dead.
The chapter on Dr. Mengele, one of the most notorious Nazis to escape prosecution, details the O.S.I.’s elaborate efforts in the mid-1980s to determine whether he had fled to the United States and might still be alive.
It describes how investigators used letters and diaries apparently written by Dr. Mengele in the 1970s, along with German dental records and Munich phone books, to follow his trail.
After the development of DNA tests, the piece of scalp, which had been turned over by the Brazilian authorities, proved to be a critical piece of evidence in establishing that Dr. Mengele had fled to Brazil and had died there in about 1979 without ever entering the United States, the report said. The edited report deletes references to Dr. Mengele’s scalp on privacy grounds.
Even documents that have long been available to the public are omitted, including court decisions, Congressional testimony and front-page newspaper articles from the 1970s.
A chapter on the O.S.I.’s most publicized failure — the case against John Demjanjuk, a retired American autoworker who was mistakenly identified as Treblinka’s Ivan the Terrible — deletes dozens of details, including part of a 1993 ruling by the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit that raised ethics accusations against Justice Department officials.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #1863 on: Nov 14th, 2010, 09:30am »
New York Times
November 13, 2010 NATO Seeks Afghan Police in the South By CARLOTTA GALL and RUHULLAH KHAPALWAK
Maj. Gen. Nick Carter, right, a British commander, meeting with Shah Mohammed, left, a district governor, last month in Arghandab, Afghanistan.
ARGHANDAB, Afghanistan — Gen. David H. Petraeus, the overall commander of coalition forces in Afghanistan, is moving to sharply increase Afghan police forces drawn from villages in southern provinces, and is employing the help of former mujahedeen commanders to recruit them, NATO officials said.
The mujahedeen were Afghan guerrilla fighters trained and backed by the United States to fight the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan in the 1980s. They later fought against the Taliban and helped topple them from power in 2001.
Under President Hamid Karzai, they were gradually disarmed and demobilized. But many maintain fearsome reputations and have deep links in communities that can be revived to gather intelligence and raise forces quickly.
NATO commanders hope that they can be used to help raise as many as 30,000 local police officers within six months, providing a critical element to help the government and coalition forces hold on to areas newly cleared of Taliban insurgents, the officials said.
Previous efforts to raise local defense forces have failed, largely because of a lack of support in communities and from the government. The police, meanwhile, have a reputation for poor discipline, drug abuse and corruption, and have proved easy prey for the Taliban.
Though some NATO commanders remain cautious about using the mujahedeen, others say the village-based forces can work as part of the coordinated military and civilian strategy that has begun to gain traction in the south since the arrival of 30,000 more American troops and thousands of extra Afghan troops this year.
Under the plan, the new forces will be approved by local councils, or shuras, to ensure that they have the support of all constituencies, that old rivalries between commanders and tribes are not reactivated, and that one faction does not gather too much power to itself.
“Then you partner it up effectively with I.S.A.F. and with the Afghan National Police, then you have got a very real possibility of keeping the Taliban out,” said Maj. Gen. Nick Carter, the departing British commander of coalition forces in the southern region, referring to the International Security Assistance Force of NATO.
Still, many, even in NATO, have reservations about recruiting and arming loosely controlled forces. Many Afghans, too, including President Karzai, are wary of empowering private militias, given the factional fighting among mujahedeen groups in the 1990s and the more recent tensions caused by Afghanistan’s private security companies.
General Petraeus had agreed with President Karzai to a pilot program of 10,000 such local Afghan policemen shortly after taking command in July. Recruitment has already begun in some places to expand that plan, with the blessing of the Karzai government.
On a recent day, General Carter sat with Afghan and American commanders on the roof terrace at the district headquarters of Arghandab, just north of the city of Kandahar, discussing how to consolidate their hold over areas cleared three weeks before.
“How quickly can you recruit 300 local police?” he asked a former mujahedeen commander, Hajji Hafizullah. “Can you bring them for training by tomorrow?” By the end of the meeting, the district governor was signing the papers of several dozen local men who will form the local police force.
General Carter calls the new forces “sons of the shura,” because they require approval by everyone on the traditional council of elders to prevent them from becoming what he called “one bloke’s militia.” The plan has clear echoes of the Sons of Iraq, the neighborhood militias that helped turn around violence there.
General Carter, who completed his one-year tour on Nov. 2, contends that the local forces can provide insight in the Taliban heartland, here in Kandahar Province and in neighboring provinces.
He said one early mistake he made was to remove the discredited local police from Marja, in Helmand Province, ahead of the large-scale operation against the Taliban there in February. Without leaving some of them there to provide important local intelligence, General Carter said, “we did not really have an understanding of what was going on probably for about four to six weeks.”
American Marines holding Marja have been plagued by the reinfiltration of insurgents since the operation. NATO commanders are bracing themselves for the same trouble in the newly cleared districts around Kandahar.
“The challenge always is what happens when a resurgent Taliban tries to come back and tries to undermine the security that you are trying to establish,” General Carter said. “And that we should expect on and off over the next few months.”
Whatever their reputation for excess, the former mujahedeen know their areas and their people like no one else. They have also proved themselves brave enough to stand up to the Taliban. “These guys have the clout to make people braver,” General Carter said.
Local police officers, trained and supervised by American Special Forces, are already operating in a number of places, including part of Marja and an area in Arghandab, and Special Forces units are already looking to recruit men in the newly cleared horn of Panjwai in Kandahar Province, said Brig. Gen. Frederick Hodges, the coalition director of operations in the south.
“It is promising, but the jury is still out,” he said in an interview.
The plan is financed by the United States and coordinated through the Afghan Ministry of Interior, now headed by Gen. Bismillah Khan Mohammadi, who led the nascent Afghan National Army for the last eight years.
General Petraeus aims to have local police officers recruited and trained in 68 sites in forces of 250 to 350 over the next six months, a NATO official said.
The expansion of the local police is part of a comprehensive counterinsurgency strategy that includes a push on the civilian side. The number of American civilian officials in the south has risen to 70, from a handful a year ago, including 20 State Department political and aid officials in front-line districts, said the senior State Department diplomat in Kandahar, Henry Ensher.
Another crucial part of the counterinsurgency plan, General Carter said, has been to better understand local dynamics to ensure popular support for the anti-Taliban campaign. A year ago most intelligence briefings focused on the Taliban a year ago, he said, but now “90 percent is about politics, power brokers, patron-client relationships.”
An estimated 50 to 60 percent of insurgents in Kandahar districts like Zhare and Panjwai are not hardened ideologues, but fight out of sympathy for the Taliban, for money or because of tribal grievances, General Hodges said.
“So we put a lot more energy and time into that aspect of the operation for Kandahar, supporting the district governor, getting the tribal balances right, trying to find the tribal elders who had left Zhare and Panjwai and getting them to participate,” he said.
Understanding the local dynamics in Arghandab has been critical to securing the area, military and civilian officials said. But persuading everyone to bury their differences takes a touch of Machiavellian politics, General Carter said. “You have to know enough to be able to hold their feet to the fire,” he said.
His aim is to build a coalition of Afghan security forces and a government strong enough to stop the Taliban from reinfiltrating and intimidating communities. “They will find people have returned, security is stronger, and they will not be able to come back,” he said.
Carlotta Gall reported from Arghandab and Ruhullah Khapalwak from Kabul, Afghanistan.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #1864 on: Nov 14th, 2010, 09:39am »
Dance moves can reveal your personality The way you dance can reveal information about your personality, scientists have found.
By Richard Gray, Science Correspondent 7:00AM GMT 14 Nov 2010
It is where many couples first set eyes on one another - and now research suggests that the dancefloor is the perfect place to gauge a prospective partner's personality.
Scientists have claimed that the way a person gyrates in time to music can betray secrets of their character.
Using personality tests, the researchers assessed volunteeers into one of five "types". They then observed how each members of each group danced to different kinds of music. They found that:
* Extroverts moved their bodies around most on the dance floor, often with energetic and exaggerated movements of their head and arms.
* Neurotic individuals danced with sharp, jerky movements of their hands and feet – a style that might be recognised by clubbers and wedding guests as the "shuffle".
* Agreeable personalities tended to have smoother dancing styles, making use of the dance floor by moving side to side while swinging their hands.
* Open-minded people tended to make rhythmic up-and-down movements, and did not move around as much as most of the others
* People who were conscientious or dutiful moved around the dance floor a lot, and also moved their hands over larger distances than other dancers.
Dr Geoff Luck of the University of Jyvaskyla in Finland, who led the research, said: "Music is known to evoke strong emotions in people and emotions can be expressed through bodily movement.
"People use body motions as reliable indicators of others' personality types, and even the movements of robots have been shown to elicit attributes of 'personality' by observers."
The researchers studied the dance moves of 60 volunteers who had been selected from 900 people who conducted personality tests. The dancers were picked due to having strong scores in one of the five main personality traits being studied.
Each of the volunteers were asked to dance spontaneously to 30 different tracks from six different genres of music – rock, techno, Latin, jazz, funk and pop.
Using motion capture technology, the researchers recorded the dance styles of all the volunteers as they were played each musical clip before analysing the movements using computer software.
The researchers found strong correlations between certain dancing styles and each of the personalities. They also discovered that different personalities danced in different ways depending on the music.
Rock music tended to bring out stereotypical headbanging moves, particularly among those with an extrovert personality.
Those with open-minded personalities seemed to make more rhythmical limb movements than anyone else during techno music.
Agreeable individuals seemed to move around more confidently than the others during Latin music, while the conscientious participants changed from moving around the dance floor to making smaller jerkier movements while listening to techno music.
Rock music appeared to be the only genre that brought neurotics out of their shells; otherwise they tended to make small, nervous movements.
Dr Luck, a researcher in "music-related movement" - also known as dancing - added: "Certain movements may be more representative of particular genres, such as the way listeners tend to nod their head or tap their foot when listening to jazz music.
"Future work might examine how other genres of music, such as classical or world music, influence listeners' spontaneous movements. Such music may not elicit the same kind of rhythmical dancing movements, but would help us better understand the effects of music on body movement."
Michelle Groves, associate dean at the faculty of education at the Royal Academy of Dance, said professional dancers were trained to express their emotions when they danced and tended to hide their personalities, but this would be less obvious in untrained people.
She said: "There has been work in the past that has shown you can guess at a person's personality from the way they move, but it hasn't looked at dance.
"Professional dancers tend to have introverted personalities, but they are are highly emotional which they draw on when they are performing. It is a nice contrast to this research with people who have not been through a period of training, as their personality comes through more clearly and it hasn't been self-selected."
Dr Peter Lovatt, a psychologist at the University of Hertfordshire and a former professional dancer, said dancing and movement could convey subtle messages about the way people are feeling and thinking, which has its routes deep in our evolutionary history.
He said: "There is a common train of thought that dancing is related to sexual selection and is part of the mate selection process.
"We have done some work asking 14,000 people to describe their dancing styles and we saw that dancing changes with age as their confidence in dancing changes.
"Confidence plays an important role in the way people dance. Self esteem also plays an important role and this can influence a person's personality."
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #1866 on: Nov 14th, 2010, 09:46am »
Obama tells Medvedev he'll make nuclear treaty a priority The pressure is on to get the treaty OKd in the Senate's lame duck session, before Republicans swell their ranks in the chamber next year.
By Christi Parsons Los Angeles Times Staff Writer 11:46 PM PST, November 13, 2010
President Obama made one departing promise as he wrapped up his meeting with world leaders here Sunday, telling his Russian counterpart that he will make approval of their nuclear agreement a top priority in the final days of the Democratic Congress.
In what one official called a "full-court press" on Capitol Hill, the administration is arguing that the new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty is critical to the future of U.S.- Russia relations, and that dragging things out could do irreparable damage.
"The president has made it very clear publicly that this is his highest priority in terms of foreign policy pieces of business to get done in the lame duck session," a senior administration official said here Sunday. "And if the president says that, then the rest of us are doing everything we can to make that happen."
As part of the effort to pass the treaty, the president's team is offering to spend $4 billion more on the U.S. nuclear weapons complex over the next five years, U.S. officials confirmed Sunday.
Signed by Obama and Medvedev last spring, the treaty would limit the U.S. and Russia to significantly fewer strategic arms within seven years after it is finalized. If the treaty isn't approved for ratification by the Senate in the lame duck session, Obama fears it could get bogged down in partisan delay after Republicans swell their ranks in the chamber next year. GOP leaders want to see greater investment in the nation's weapons production facilities, and the president has previously promised to pump up the 10-year investment by $10 billion.
Obama's pledge to Russian President Dmitri Medvedev came on the margins of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting, where world leaders concluded their final day of talks about trade issues Sunday.
Capping off a week of summits, the APEC leaders approved a blueprint for growth that encourages the pursuit of free trade agreements and discourages protectionism. Leaders also agreed to work to cut down trade imbalances, government debt and wild fluctuations in exchange rates.
Obama's conversation with Medvedev was also about work in progress. Referring to Medvedev afterward as "my friend, Dmitri," Obama told reporters he had reiterated his commitment to get the START treaty approved before the end of the year and communicated to Congress "that it is a top priority."
The treaty was the first thing on the agenda at Sunday's meeting, according to White House sources. Obama explained to Medvedev the administration's strategy for achieving ratification, and also talked with him about the U.S. politics he thinks are complicating matters.
Privately, administration officials see the START as a case that will indicate whether the newly empowered Republicans intend to oppose any and all initiatives of the Democratic president.
Russian officials have expressed some concern about how long the treaty discussions are dragging out, which U.S. diplomats worry could signal trouble down the road.
"We think the START treaty is important for what it does as an arms control treaty," said one official, "but we also think that symbolically for this to linger on would begin to bleed into other aspects of U.S.-Russian relations. And neither country, of course, has an interest in doing that."
After the APEC meeting, Obama planned to visit the statue of the Great Buddha at Kamakura, then head home to Washington.
The film is directed by Martin Campbell and stars Ryan Reynolds, Blake Lively, Peter Sarsgaard, Tim Robbins, Mark Strong, Taika Waititi, Temuera Morrison, Angela Bassett, Jay O. Sanders and Jon Tenney.
It opens in theaters everywhere on June 17, and I predict it will be one of the big blockbusters of the summer. What are your thoughts?
[From Venkman - Finally we see Hal Jordan in the Green Lantern suit! I love the look and style of the CGI costume. The effects are still being worked on so what we see here is still unfinished, but it gives you a solid idea of what is in store for us! I also like the tone of the film, and the fun little comedic moments that suits Reynolds' personality.]
Navy's newest destroyer commissioned at Port Everglades
The USS Jason Dunham is named for a Marine who sacrificed himself in Iraq
By Wayne K. Roustan, Sun Sentinel 5:28 p.m. EST, November 13, 2010
The U.S. Navy's newest destroyer was commissioned at Port Everglades on Saturday morning.
The USS Jason Dunham became the fourth Navy vessel commissioned at the port. The ceremony attracted more than 3,000 people, most of whom were invited dignitaries, family and friends of crew members.
The $1 billion Arleigh Burke Class Aegis guided-missile destroyer is named for a Marine who was killed in combat in Iraq.
According to a military account of what happened on April 14, 2004, Cpl. Dunham, 22, was attacked by an insurgent who dropped a live grenade as the two wrestled. Dunham covered the grenade with his Kevlar helmet and his body, saving the lives of two fellow Marines.
He died of his wounds eight days later at Bethesda Naval Hospital, in Maryland, with his parents at his bedside.
Dan and Deb Dunham were at the ceremony aboard the ship named for their son. Deb Dunham shouted the order to "Man the ship and bring her to life!" With that, columns of white-clad sailors sprinted through the crowd and raced up the gangplanks at the bow and stern to line the decks of the 510-foot-long vessel to thunderous applause and cheers at Terminal 29.
Deb Dunham spoke of the pride she had for her son and had a message for the crew, "When you sail, rest assured you sail with a guardian angel," she said.
Under Secretary of the Navy Robert Work placed the USS Jason Dunham into service, and Cmdr. Scott Sciretta assumed command of the ship.
Sciretta's voice cracked with emotion as he asked the crowd to stand and recognize Marine Sgt. William "Billy" Hampton, with his wife and two young daughters in attendance, as "the true impact that Jason Dunham had on life itself."
Hampton was one of the two Marines Dunham saved.
Gen. James Amos, commandant of the Marine Corps, pointed out that most naval ships are named for past presidents, commanders, battles or cities. Since the USS Jason Dunham is named for a young Marine in a recent war, crew members take that "very, very personally," he said.
In 2007, President George W. Bush posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor to Dunham. He was the first Marine since the Vietnam War to receive the distinction and the first Marine to receive the honor for Operation Iraqi Freedom.
The destroyer is scheduled to depart Monday with its 380 crew members after wrapping up 10 days of South Florida activities.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #1871 on: Nov 15th, 2010, 08:02am »
New York Times
November 14, 2010 Years Later, Armey Once Again a Power in Congress By KATE ZERNIKE and JENNIFER STEINHAUER
BALTIMORE — Dick Armey was drinking in the love.
Around him, the victors in the latest Republican revolution were offering their fealty.
Mike Lee, the newly elected senator from Utah, said the high point of his campaign had been seeing signs from Mr. Armey’s group, FreedomWorks, supporting him around his state.
Tim Scott, a newly elected congressman from South Carolina, declared, “We thank you, Dick Armey.” And Renee Ellmers, a Congressional candidate from North Carolina who is leading as her race heads into a recount, simply gushed: “Dick, you’re wonderful.”
Of course, Representative John A. Boehner, an actual congressman, is expected to lead the Republican majority that will take office in January. But having helped build the wave that created that majority, Mr. Armey has been operating like something of a shadow majority leader — eight years after he left Congress.
He invited incoming lawmakers who had been backed by the Tea Party to a two-day retreat in Baltimore last week, where he presented them with policy books and urged them not to submit to the ways of Washington. (He and wife, Susan, also spoke on how to avoid letting Congress ruin a marriage.)
After election day, Mr. Armey sent a memo to every Republican in Congress, outlining a strategy for repealing the health care legislation, and guidelines for legislation Republicans could offer in its place. He weighed in on leadership elections. He has even rehired his policy adviser from his Congressional days to help shape a legislative agenda. (“Putting the band back together,” one of his aides put it.)
As new lawmakers, many of them with no political experience, come to Washington, many groups and would-be leaders of the Tea Party are vying to influence them. Several held competing freshman orientations over the weekend, in advance of the official party orientation this week.
But Mr. Armey is uniquely poised: he has the legislative experience that the Tea Party groups can’t offer, but the Tea Party credibility that Republicans can’t claim.
There is particular irony in Mr. Armey — who has spent three decades in Washington, where he has become one of the city’s most enduring insiders — mentoring a movement that wants to hold on to its outsider ethos.
Elected to Congress in 1984, he was at the forefront the last time Republicans stormed the Capitol, helping write the Contract with America that set the party’s agenda in 1994, and becoming majority leader, the second in command, the following year.
After leaving Congress in 2003, he became a lobbyist with DLA Piper and chairman of FreedomWorks, a well-connected advocacy group. His listing with a speakers’ bureau notes that his fee starts at $20,000 and that he requires first-class travel for two.
Even those who call themselves friends say there is potential peril for the Tea Party in the relationship.
“A lot of people are trying to run to the front of this parade,” said Vin Weber, a former House colleague of Mr. Armey’s. “But anything that begins to make them look like another Washington-based political organization is going to take a lot of wind out of their sails.”
Still, he said of Mr. Armey: “He was never seduced by Washington establishment ways. That makes him attractive.”
Before Tea Party audiences, Mr. Armey pitches himself as anything but a creature of the Capitol. He never misses a chance to mention his humble beginnings in Cando (pronounced CAN-do), North Dakota, where he worked stringing utility wires after high school. (He credits an epiphany up a light pole on a below-freezing night for making him realize that he wanted to be the first in his family to go to college.) He describes his scorn for political arrogance by quoting an old song: “Mr. Big Stuff.”
He has told Republicans that their victory is less a mandate than a second chance for them to show that they can govern well. It is something of a second chance for him, as well.
Mr. Armey aspired to be speaker of the House, but hurt his chances when he joined and then denied being involved in an attempted coup against Speaker Newt Gingrich. “His credibility was shot with a lot of the members,” said John Feehery, a former top aide to the Republican leadership.
An economist by training and an evangelist of the Austrian school of free market economics, Mr. Armey represents the libertarian wing of the Republican Party more than the social conservative wing. Since leaving Congress, he has complained that Republicans focused too much on social issues and not enough on fiscal conservatism.
The concern about spending that propelled the Tea Party wave has made his brand of conservatism popular again.
Republican aides to the current leadership grumbled about Mr. Armey’s orientation for new members, publicly commending it but privately dismissing it as failing to attract many incoming lawmakers (about 25 showed up.)
“It seems like a good way to help them hit the ground running,” said Michael Steel, a spokesman for Mr. Boehner, adding, “It is one of several efforts to do so.”
There have also been some eyebrows raised at the idea of a former Republican Conference chairman and majority leader advising new House members to be skeptical about the leadership. But many Republicans credit Mr. Armey for recognizing the potential of the Tea Party movement early. “If they hadn’t had Armey working for them, it would have been a bloodbath for us,” Mr. Feehery said.
Mr. Armey was among the first to endorse Tea Party candidates like Marco Rubio, the senator-elect from Florida. FreedomWorks, through its political arm, also helped organize Tea Party groups.
A man of many aphorisms, Mr. Armey likes to say, “Washington is a city of young idealists and old cynics.” In his telling, you lose your youthful idealism when you worry too much about fitting into the establishment. Speaking to the new lawmakers in Baltimore, he framed it as a stark choice: embrace the movement that got you elected or become “hack politicians, going along to get along.”
He advised them to adopt what he calls an “inside-outside” strategy. The revolution of 1994, he argues, failed because Republicans had a game only inside Congress; the trick is to have lawmakers inside pushing legislation and grass-roots groups supporting the cause from outside.
As the new generation of Republicans lavished him with praise, Mr. Armey insisted it was he who was happiest to help: “I’ve always felt so treated you were willing to let us.”
Kate Zernike reported from New York, and Jennifer Steinhauer from Baltimore. David M. Herszenhorn contributed reporting from Washington.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #1872 on: Nov 15th, 2010, 08:07am »
New York Times
November 14, 2010 U.S. Plan Envisions Path to Ending Afghan Combat By PETER BAKER and ROD NORDLAND
WASHINGTON — The Obama administration has developed a plan to begin transferring security duties in select areas of Afghanistan to that country’s forces over the next 18 to 24 months, with an eye toward ending the American combat mission there by 2014, officials said Sunday.
The phased four-year plan to wind down American and allied fighting in Afghanistan will be presented at a NATO summit meeting in Lisbon later this week, the officials said. It will reflect the most concrete vision for transition in Afghanistan assembled by civilian and military officials since President Obama took office last year.
In many respects, the concept follows the precedent set in Iraq, where a similar troop surge and strategy shift under President George W. Bush in 2007 enabled American-led coalition forces to eventually hand over security duties to the Iraqis region by region. By last summer, Mr. Obama was able to pull out two-thirds of United States forces from Iraq and declare America’s combat mission there over.
“Iraq is a pretty decent blueprint for how to transition in Afghanistan,” one American official said Sunday, insisting like others on anonymity to discuss the strategy before its presentation. “But the key will be constructing an Afghan force that is truly capable of taking the lead.”
The new transition planning comes as prospects for last year’s troop increase in Afghanistan and reformulated strategy there remain uncertain. American forces in Afghanistan have tripled under Mr. Obama, and Gen. David H. Petraeus, the commander, has expressed confidence that they are making progress. But the last of the reinforcements arrived only recently, and officials in Washington have said it is too early to say whether the strategy will work.
Any such transition risks declaring Afghan units combat-ready before they really are, and officials emphasized Sunday that any transition would be based on local conditions, not a dictate from Washington, and would be a process, not an event. “This will be ground-up,” one official said.
The American government is already assessing which areas could be safely handed over to Afghan security forces and will be ready to identify them late this year or early next year, officials said. Every few months, more areas will begin the transition, with the last at the end of 2012. Those will almost certainly include the toughest areas, like Khost in the east and Kandahar in the south.
Even after Afghan forces have assumed the lead in a province, some American or NATO forces may remain or be positioned “over the horizon” elsewhere in Afghanistan ready to respond quickly if necessary. By the end of 2014, American and NATO combat forces could be withdrawn if conditions warrant, although tens of thousands very likely will remain for training, mentoring and other assistance, just as 50,000 American troops are still in Iraq.
The plan came amid escalating pressure from President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan to reduce the visibility of American troops, to halt night raids unless carried out by Afghan soldiers or police officers and to begin withdrawing foreign forces by next year. “The time has come to reduce military operations,” Mr. Karzai told The Washington Post in an interview that stirred renewed concern among American officials on Sunday. “The time has come to reduce the presence of, you know, boots in Afghanistan.”
While Mr. Obama last year set July 2011 as the start of a withdrawal, he left undetermined the pace and schedule for pulling out the 100,000 American troops now in Afghanistan. The vow to begin bringing troops home helped mute anger among his liberal base but prompted some in the region to assume that America was rushing for the exits.
To emphasize America’s long-term commitment to the country, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, have stressed in recent days that 2014 will be the critical date for Afghanistan to take full control of security, a date first set by Mr. Karzai.
The plan’s success depends in part on building an Afghan Army and police force genuinely able to defend their own country. The combined forces today have about 264,000 men, with a goal of 350,000 by 2013. Yet attrition has been a problem for years, with many soldiers and police officers simply walking away, some winding up with the insurgents.
The transition plan may draw skepticism among Republicans, who have complained about Mr. Obama’s previously announced intention to begin withdrawing some forces from the troop increase starting next July.
Senator John McCain of Arizona, Mr. Obama’s Republican opponent in 2008, said Sunday that the president appeared to be basing his war planning on the politics of his liberal base. “You don’t fight and conduct wars that way,” Mr. McCain said on “Meet the Press” on NBC. “You win, and then you leave. And that’s what we’ve done in Iraq.”
Appearing on the same program, the president’s senior adviser, David Axelrod, said any pullout would be driven by strategy. “We’ve always said it would be based on conditions on the ground, and that is still the case,” he said. “But it’s important to let the Afghans know that they have to pick up the pace in terms of training up the military, training up their police, being ready to accept responsibility.”
While Mr. Karzai has criticized the American military, his latest remarks appeared to go further. But a spokesman for Mr. Karzai, Waheed Omer, said “the president has just talked in line with the transition strategy of NATO.”
On the ground, the tempo of Special Operations raids has greatly increased, resulting in what the United States military says is a sixfold increase in captures and killings of Taliban commanders, but also in an increase in night raids that sometimes lead to civilian casualties.
“It’s not desirable for the Afghan people either to have 100,000 or more foreign troops going around the country endlessly,” Mr. Karzai said, suggesting they should by next year begin drawing down and confining themselves to their bases.
Mr. Omer said the suggestion that American troops be confined to bases referred to a long-term strategic partnership after 2014. But he said “the president does hold the view that there needs to be a reduction in visibility and intrusiveness.” He also said the “visibility and presence” of Afghan forces must increase.
A senior NATO official said that discussions about night raids had been held with Mr. Karzai, and that tactics had been adapted to recognize his sensitivity, including using Afghan partners.
The official said General Petraeus “is spending a considerable amount of time working with President Karzai and his national security team to build upon the progress we’ve made to date, ensuring the eventual transition to Afghan lead by the end of 2014.”
Peter Baker reported from Washington, and Rod Nordland from Kabul, Afghanistan.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #1873 on: Nov 15th, 2010, 08:20am »
Gen Petraeus 'astonished’ at Karzai’s latest coalition criticism By Ben Farmer in Kabul 11:17AM GMT 15 Nov 2010
Officials said Gen Petraeus voiced “astonishment and disappointment” at Mr Karzai’s demand he should reduce the number of night raids searching for insurgents.
Mr Karzai’s attack on a cornerstone of Gen Petraeus’s strategy “is really undermining [Petraeus’s] endeavours”, one foreign diplomat told the Washington Post.
The latest row in the fractious relationship between Mr Karzai and his foreign backers was triggered by his comments in a weekend interview that “the time has come to reduce military operations”.
The Afghan president singled out this summer’s unprecedented special forces campaign of raids, some carried out by Britain’s SAS, targeted at insurgent commanders and bomb-makers.
He said: “I don’t like it in any manner and the Afghan people don’t like these raids in any manner.
“We don’t like raids in our homes. This is a problem between us and I hope this ends as soon as possible. ... Terrorism is not invading Afghan homes and fighting terrorism is not being intrusive in the daily Afghan life.” Gen Petraeus, reacted on Sunday by making what witnesses described as “hypothetical” references to his inability to continue operations in the face of Mr Karzai’s remarks, during a meeting with senior Afghan officials, the newspaper said.
He did not attend a scheduled meeting with the Afghan president, who himself cancelled a press conference by his spokesman.
Western diplomats are regularly exasperated by Mr Karzai’s unpredictable outbursts and the dispute follows friction on his decision to ban private security companies and his insistence most corruption is caused by foreigners.
Relations had recently improved he said in the same interview and “we don’t shout at each other as often as we did before”.
Afghan officials seeking to smooth over the row denied Mr Karzai’s comments were a vote of no confidence in America’s senior general in Afghanistan, the paper said.
Special forces teams are carrying out more than 1,000 raids a month and intelligence reports suggest Taliban commanders inside Afghanistan are harried and must constantly change their locations.
More than 300 insurgent leaders have been captured or killed in the past three months Nato has claimed.
Several botched assaults have caused civilian deaths however and complaints of arbitrary detention or raids based on faulty intelligence are widespread in southern Afghanistan.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #1874 on: Nov 15th, 2010, 08:24am »
Nov. 15, 1864: Sherman’s March to the Sea Changes Tactical Warfare By Tony Long November 15, 2010 | 7:00 am | Categories: 19th century, Warfare and Military
1864: Union troops under Maj. Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman burn the heart of Atlanta to the ground and begin their March to the Sea. By the time they’re done, the tactics of warfare will be changed forever.
After driving the Confederates out of Atlanta, Sherman entered the city in early September and remained until Nov. 15. Sparing only the churches, courthouse and the city’s private residences, Sherman’s troops cut the telegraph wires and burned everything else of consequence: warehouses, train depots, factories.
Then the army set off, four corps divided into two columns, on its march to the sea.
In a 62-day campaign of destruction, the 62,000-man Union force cut a ruinous, 60-mile-wide swath through Georgia: tearing up railroads, firing factories, destroying bridges, burning plantations, seizing livestock and freeing slaves. The army lived off the land, sacking the unfortunate homesteads and plantations that lay along the line of march.
After Savannah fell Dec. 22, Sherman paused only long enough to secure the seaport before swinging north into the Carolinas. The destruction wrought by the Federals in South Carolina — the first Southern state to secede from the Union — was even worse than it had been in Georgia.
Vengeance aside, the real objective of Sherman’s march was to cut the Confederacy in two, cripple Southern industrial capacity, destroy the railroad system and compel an early Confederate surrender. It was also intended to break Southern morale — in Sherman’s words, to “make Georgia howl.”
Sherman was vilified for his barbarism, but the Union commander was a realist, not a romantic. He understood — as few of his contemporaries seemed to — that technology and industrialization were radically changing the nature of warfare.
It was no longer a question of independent armies meeting on remote battlefields to settle the issue. Civilians, who helped produce the means for waging modern war, would no longer be considered innocent noncombatants. Hitting the enemy where he ate and breaking him psychologically were just as important to victory as vanquishing his armies in the field.
Sherman grasped this and, though he wasn’t the first military proponent of total war, he was the first modern commander to deliberately strike at the enemy’s infrastructure. The scorched-earth tactics were effective. The fragile Southern economy collapsed, and a once-stout rebel army was irretrievably broken.
Meanwhile, the marshals of Europe watched Sherman’s progress with fascination. And they learned.
Photo: Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman Bettmann/Corbis